PhD Studentship - Non-invasive Cancer Imaging and Therapy with Robotics

University of Leeds

This studentship seeks to investigate the use of HIFU for the treatment of head and neck cancers since the presence of these vapour bubbles nucleated by the targeted nanoparticles is known to enhance thermal ablation in a localised region and improves treatment efficacy. Integrating this theranostic approach with a waterproof robotic arm will allow in the future for semi-autonomous cancer treatments. The benefit of a waterproof system, is that it enables the entire imaging/surgical apparatus to be submerged allowing patients to comfortably lie prone on the treatment bed without the need for direct physical contact with the theranostic system.

This multidisciplinary studentship will primarily be based in the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds, but some aspects of the project will take place in the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology (LICAP). All research would be undertaken in a laboratory based setting, working primarily with tissue mimicking phantoms, or cell culture. In this studentship a key focus would be to develop software and procedures to integrate the use of robotics with a diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound research platform. The majority of this development will be undertaken using Matlab and any prior experience would be useful, but not essential. Diagnostic ultrasound techniques such as plane wave imaging, shear wave elastography, contrast imaging (i.e. use of microbubbles) and photoacoustic imaging would also be investigated for their integration with the robotic system.

For this theranostics approach to be successful it is important to establish that these molecular-targeted nanoparticles attach to the correct cancer types and one aspect of this studentship will be looking into their interaction with relevant cell lines, such as those that represent head and neck cancers. A dedicated cell scanning system will be developed in order to achieve this aim.

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Northern England